Skegness Academy defends funding an all expenses trip to New York for selected pupils

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By MarieW | Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 17:20

THE Skegness academy at the heart of criticism over spending £32,000 on an all all-expenses paid trip to New York for 40 of its pupils has defended its actions.

Skegness Academy said it would reward pupils based on attendance records, study records and attitude.

The action has already been slammed by teaching unions and a local councillor – Mark Smith, who is a governor at nearby Skegness Grammar School.

Ian Stephenson, of the National Union of Teachers, said the cost of the trip could pay the annual salary of an extra teacher at the academy, and Mr Smith added: "The academy, by giving holiday rewards and free uniforms, is trying to increase its numbers at the expense of neighbouring schools, not just in Skegness but the wider area."

But, Barry Day, chief executive of the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, which runs the academy, said: "Our Skegness Academy has been subjected to an unprecedented attack over the last few days about their financial support for trips, activities and uniform.

"During the consultation stage leading to the predecessor St. Clements school converting to this sponsor led academy the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust (GDFT) made it absolutely clear that the GDFT believes that activities away from the classroom are as valuable as work in the classroom, sometimes more so.

"This is the GDFT's stance and all our evidence shows that it pays dividends in improving pupil attitudes, behaviour and motivation. This is why academy money is spent on outdoor pursuits, trips and productions.

"The GDFT only works in disadvantaged communities and many of our pupils would miss out on these opportunities because of financial constraints in their homes, especially at the present time, if we did not offer our support."

 "Many of our youngsters have taken advantage of what we offer at no cost to their parents. This includes a trip to New York that Mr Smith seemed so incensed by when he spoke to the media. The decision by the Principal of the Academy to run this trip has the CEO's full support and fits absolutely within GDFT guidelines for such activities. It will run, despite the ill-informed media criticism.

"We shall also continue to run all the other activities that we have run over the last few years and will not be deflected from a policy that has such positive outcomes."

He also spoke of criticism from Mr Smith over the academy helping with the cost of pupils' uniform.

He said:  "Mr Smith has a problem with our purchase of school uniform items for our pupils. This is the policy across all GDFT academies because we only work in disadvantaged communities and this helps many parents who would struggle to purchase the items required, even though we keep our uniform simple and costs low.

"This is a moral imperative and the GDFT will continue to fund uniform despite this unwarranted criticism. It is the right thing to do."

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